Wellfleet Preservation Hall has been open for less than a decade, but you would never know it because since they opened in 2011 on Main Street, they have not only made their mark on the Wellfleet community, but on the Cape as a whole, providing year-round events and gatherings that serve to educate and connect the community. We chatted with their Executive Director, Janet Lesniak, about their mission, successes and her favorite things about living on Cape Cod.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your connection to the Cape?
I have been visiting the Cape since childhood and landed here full-time about 10 years ago. We lived in Big Sur, California running our family business, The Big Sur River Inn for over 20 years. When our kids started their own families on the East Coast, I knew I wanted to be closer. My husband has been coming to Wellfleet his entire life and we vacationed here for many years with our children, so it was an easy decision to make this our East Coast home.
You are the Executive Director of Wellfleet Preservation Hall – can you share the history and mission of the organization?
Wellfleet Preservation Hall opened in May 2011 after 5 years of intensive fundraising to preserve and re-purpose Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church which had suffered drastically from years of neglect. A small group of Wellfleet residents imagined bringing new vibrancy and community to Main Street. They envisioned the Hall, perfectly located in the center of town, as a versatile space for the intersection of art, culture and community while preserving what had become an iconic and beloved building. Our Mission is to create and nurture community connections.
We imagine and generate year-round opportunities for the community to learn, grow, celebrate and enjoy the Outer Cape, provide experiences for all generations, support economic vitality through the promotion of arts and culture, and protect and preserve the Hall.
What is the primary function of Prez Hall?
We are a community cultural center providing a beautifully appointed, professionally equipped space for people to perform, create, teach, learn and gather. With over 600 events annually…including classes, concerts, theater, dance, yoga, Zumba, pop-up restaurants, films as well as weddings, memorials, business and community meetings…we strive to build community and create economic vitality.
What do you say to people who say there’s nothing going on in the winter on Cape Cod, particularly the Outer Cape?
Very few people say that to me anymore. In fact, what I often hear is that there are not enough days in the week for all the choices that are available…and that they can’t remember what they did before the Hall was here.
Any exciting plans for 2019?
We’ve got some great things coming up this year…a new pop-up restaurant with Chef Andre Klimovsky of Cape Cod Private Dinners in March, Twisted Pine will be here in May, NPR called them ” an upbeat, poppy vibe; energetic, driving rhythms; virtuosic solos; tight harmonies. This is definitely a band to watch.” Beat The Heat Music Festival in July and The Woodfleet Project, our own pop-up art event. And profound thinker, artist, poet, Max Stossel will be here in August with Words That Move.
Describe your perfect Cape Cod day.
Summer Sundays I like to take a walk on the beach with my dog and welcome the day…enjoy coffee and the paper on my deck. Afterward, I hop on my bike and ride to Provincetown where my husband plays a jazz brunch every week. Feeling strong and virtuous after riding over hill and dale, I love sitting on the deck listening to the music, enjoying delicious food and friends. I am smiling just thinking about it.